Hannah is a senior English and Psychology major so her main obsessions are writing and people. Hannah spends most of her time working on an honor's thesis in creative writing, leading a Girl Scout troop, brainstorming new ways to leave William and Mary a better place than it was the day she transferred here, and savoring the last of her precious college moments. In her future, she hopes to fulfill her dreams of helping others, writing, and accumulating rescue dogs.
Charm City Gets Real
Baltimore City is a place infamously known for its pervasive inequalities. The city's continuing struggle with HIV does little to challenge this schema. It’s been thirty-four years since the first report of HIV in our country—twenty-seven since Ronald Reagan publicly said the word “AIDS” for the first time—but the HIV epidemic is raging in Baltimore for some as if no one has noticed. Baltimore had the 3rd highest estimated AIDS diagnosis rate of any major metropolitan area in the country and—after billions of dollars and decades of work—young, African American men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to carry the biggest burden of HIV, making up 55% of the new infections among MSM and still accounting for more new infections than any other subgroup.
There are many layers of institutional failure, paralyzing inequality, and personal anguish to consider. There are also cracks in the walls through which light enters and good work is done. And on one particularly glamorous, competitive, and lively night—at the 4th Annual "Know Your Status" Free Ball—the Baltimore City Health Department shines the spotlight on the ballroom scene, community primarily composed of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who attend drag balls, costume performance events where contestants walk against competitors on a runway.
People have their doubts about tonight but, on this rainy November evening in Baltimore, all apprehension is subdued by the laughter, conversation, glitter, free HIV testing, and—slowly—hope.
Read Hannah's entire article here.